My Watercolour Journey – Meet Mungyo

Watercolours have always intrigued me although its been a medium I have never really pursued – mostly because the first few times I tried them I failed dismally.

Now let me just rewind and give you a bit of background as to who I am to put it all into perspective.  I used to do art – and what I mean by that is that for the last 20 odd years my world has revolved around my graphic design career and so everything became digital for me. I’ve had this old graphite drawing I did of Bob Marley hanging on my wall ever since, just to remind me that at some point (around 1995) I used to be able to draw.

Watercolour Painting
Watercolour painting of a bird

So about a year ago I started itching to get back into art but where to begin?  Graphite had always been my ‘go-to’ medium, my comfort zone, and other than a few school projects I’ve never really had a chance to explore many of the other mediums.  Somewhere around 1993 I remember being asked to do a series of artworks for a centenary calendar for a mining timber company. A pretty boring subject but my challenge then had been to use colour which was quite out of my comfort zone. Being a pencil junkie at the time I figured that watercolour pencils would be my best option.  I loved how the colours came to life as the water was added and how they seemed to flow and blend into one another.  I think that was where my intrigue for watercolours started.  Back then I never got to pursue it any further, as life as a graphic designer got in the way of me continuing with my art.  That rather ancient set of watercolour pencils I used for that project is still in my artbox, and looking at them you can clearly see they were not used beyond that one project.

Professional-Water-Color-Pan-Set-of12-Open Mungyo
Mungyo Watercolour Set

Ok, so fast forward to present time.  After doing a few pastel pencil artworks the allure of watercolour got the better of me.  I’m a bit of a sucker actually, so, when it comes to a challenge I’m always up for it.  Its pretty much a known thing that watercolour is considered the most difficult medium to master so that sounded like the perfect challenge for a sucker, right?!  But, where does one start??

We live in the information era so a bit of browsing around the internet allows one to find loads of tutorials and videos on just about anything.  The general consensus is that, to give yourself a fair chance to succeed, it is important to use good quality art supplies.  Luckily we all know where to get those from – so a quick order to ArtSavingsClub meant I didn’t have to wait weeks for the supplies to arrive.  I chose the Mungyo set of 24 pans as that gave me a nice range of colours without totally breaking the bank (just in case it turned out that watercolour wasn’t for me) as well as some watercolour paper and of course some brushes.  I was good to go!

As I was just starting out with watercolour I felt that 24 colours would be a decent range of colours for the get go, without having to test my colour mixing skills too much (bearing in mind that I was a bit rusty when it came to thinking like an artist).  What I also like is that they are individual pans that clip into a metal palette – the same as what you would find in more expensive brands – and although they do not seem to be available individually there is no reason why one can not add another brand into your palette if you run out of a colour.  Each pan comes individually wrapped with its colour information on the wrapping so I think it would be relatively easy to source a similar colour in another brand if needed.  I find the pans are easier to use as you have immediate access to the colours without having to open a tube of paint each time.  The downside of pans is that for larger areas it is quite a mission to mix a large amount of paint so it may be advisable to have a few small tubes of colours in your watercolour arsenal.

The box itself is a metal palette tin which has two fold out mixing areas which gives you plenty of space to mix the colors you need.  It also has a convenient metal clasp at the bottom which gives you something secure to hold onto while you work.  This makes it great as a portable option when working in the field or while traveling and once done it all folds neatly into a secure tin.  The fact that the palette itself is metal is also a bonus as the plastic ones tend to stain very easily which make them far more difficult to keep clean.

Watercolour Impala
Watercolour painting of wildlife

The qualities that dictate the price of the paint is the actual pigment used which can sometimes be noticed in how they blend and also they may not be as archival.  The Mungyo’s are considered to be somewhere between a student grade and middle quality paint.  These are certainly a good place to start if you are interested in getting into watercolour.  I thoroughly enjoyed working with the Mungyo’s and found the colours to be vibrant and clean, and most of the colours do also have a fairly good lightfastness.  Be aware though that they do lift rather easily so glazing can be a challenge if you don’t want to get murky colours.  The pans all rewet very easily so they certainly don’t feel like a more budget range at all.

As for me – I have to admit I have literally fallen in love with the medium, as unpredictable and challenging as it is.  It certainly has a mind of its own and I’m looking forward to my journey ahead as I try to unravel the mystery of watercolour.

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